ORPC gets preliminary permit for Maine tidal project

ORPC's TidGen turbine (Photo: ORPC)

US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a preliminary permit for the Western Passage Tidal Energy Project to Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) Maine.

On December 4, 2015, ORPC Maine filed an application for a preliminary permit to study the feasibility of the proposed Western Passage Tidal Energy Project to be located in Western Passage, near the City of Eastport, Maine.

The proposed project would consist of 15 double TidGen TGU hydrokinetic tidal devices, each consisting of a 500kW turbine-generator unit for a combined installed capacity of 7.5MW.

The estimated average annual generation of the Western Passage Project would be 2.6 to 3.5GWh.

After ORPC submitted the application for the preliminary licence, FERC set up a March 14 deadline for filing comments, motions to intervene, and competing applications for the project.

Comments were received from the US Department of the Interior, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point, and an individual, regarding the project’s impact on marine life in the area, as well as site banking issues.

FERC addressed the comments in an order granting the preliminary licence to ORPC stating:

A preliminary permit does not authorize a permittee to undertake construction of the proposed project. The purpose of a preliminary permit is to study the feasibility of the project, including studying potential impacts. The concerns raised in the comments are premature at the preliminary permit stage, in that they address the potential effects of constructing and operating the proposed project. Should the permittee file a license application, these issues will be addressed in the licensing process.

ORPC Maine has already held two preliminary permits for the site. The most recent permit expired on December 31, 2013.

Since no entity other than ORPC Maine filed a preliminary permit or development application for the Western Passage Project site, FERC concluded a sufficient amount of time has passed for any other entity interested in developing the Western Passage Project site to have filed a preliminary permit or development application for the site.

Consequently, issuing a permit at this time to ORPC Maine for this site would not contribute to site banking.

FERC issued a preliminary permit to ORPC Maine on July 13, 2016, that will last for 3 years, or until ORPC submits development application to FERC.

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